NASCAR's contract with Monster Energy as the series title sponsor will be entering its final season in 2019 and that has left the sanctioning body the very difficult task of trying to find a replacement for the 2020 season.
Gone are the days when there were companies like RJ Reynolds and Sprint that were willing to shell out the big bucks to make their company's name and logo the face of the sport.
Those days were when sold out races were the norm and the TV ratings were climbing.
Companies seemed to be lined up to get their names across the hood of a Cup car. The amount of sponsorship dollars became so plentiful that what was once a sport that consisted of numerous one-car teams now began to feature larger multi-car operations that attracted some of the biggest companies in the country as sponsors.
The popularity was also a boom for the tracks as suddenly a large audience was guaranteed to any company that was willing to put its name on a race.
NASCAR also began cashing in on the its popularity as it was selling companies the right to earn the title of "Official NASCAR Sponsor" that it could use in its advertising campaigns.
Unfortunately the sports meteoric rise leveled off and as the country's economy began to drop so did the flow of sponsor's money that had helped propel the sport to its lofty height. NASCAR had its title sponsor for the series locked up but for the race teams it became increasingly difficult to not only attract a new sponsor but also keep the ones that they already had.
The boom years of the sport and it enormous popularity had tracks adding new seats and the price for these seats continued to climb but now track owners found themselves struggling to fill the seats as the price of the ticket was out of reach for many of the fans. It wasn't just the price of the ticket, motels had jumped on the bandwagon of NASCAR as the price of rooms would increase dramatically anytime the series came to town.
Adding to the sport's woes at this same time was the competition that was taking place on the track. NASCAR's rule book had grown so thick that all of the cars in the garage became clones of each other as crew chiefs had very little areas that they could put their individual stamp on. The cars were so much alike that the racing suffered as gone were the days of beating and banging as it was being replaced by follow the leader racing with very little passing.
That is not the kind of racing that would put fans in front of the TV on race days which caused the ratings to slide and has continued to this day.
Without fans in the stands and in front of the TV, NASCAR has found itself having to come up with a way to attract a new title sponsor for the 2020 season.
NASCAR has recently announced that it would no longer have just one title sponsor for the Cup Series and that it would be selling tiered sponsorships for the 2020 season. The one titled sponsor concept will no longer be used but will be replaced with a variety of sponsors that would be putting their money into the entire system that makes up the sport. This includes NASCAR, TV partners, member tracks and race teams.
Apparently there have already been some companies come on board with the new concept but NASCAR is still looking for more to fill out the entire season. It's a complete break from the way that NASCAR did business in the past but the sport is not the same sport as it once was.
This could be the starting point for NASCAR to breathe life back into the Cup Series, it may not be the cure all but it is a fresh start for a sport that desperately needs it.